Amazon facing repeated unionisation attempts at US warehouses

Amazon facing repeated unionisation attempts at US warehouses

Translated by

Nicola Mira

On Wednesday February 16, the leaders of an activist group attempting to introduce union representation at an Amazon

An Amazon workers’ protest in Brooklyn last October – Shutterstock

Employees of the JFK8 warehouse in the Staten Island district will be casting their ballots in person, said the group’s leader, Christian Smalls, on Twitter

The campaign for the creation of a trade union at this facility began last year. After several vicissitudes, the US National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) acknowledged in late January that the campaigners had collected enough signatures to request a vote.

On Wednesday, an Amazon spokesperson said the group remained “sceptical” as to whether the campaigners had gathered enough signatures. 

“But since the NLRB has decided that the election should take place, we want our employees to be able to make their voices heard as soon as possible,” said Kelly Nantel, Amazon’s director of national media relations, in a note sent to the AFP agency. “Our employees have always had the choice to join or not to join a union,” she added. 

Amazon has recently been facing several attempts at unionisation. A group of employees at a second warehouse in Staten Island, New York, called LDJ5, recently filed a request for a vote, and the NLRB still needs to certify that they have collected a sufficient number of signatures. 

Further south, in Alabama, the employees of the Bessemer warehouse have the opportunity to vote again after a first failed attempt last year

Demonstration in New York on February 20 2021 – Shutterstock

The NLRB found that Amazon had violated the voting rules in the first ballot and ordered a second one, this time a postal vote. The ballots were sent out to employees in early February and the vote count is due on March 28.

The employees who have initiated these actions have been regularly denouncing Amazon for its anti-union practices. At the end of 2018, the content of a video for internal use aimed at discouraging unionisation was exposed online. The video taught employees how to detect the “warning signs” of trade unionism among their peers, and encouraged them to report such matters to the management.

In other countries, France for example, Amazon has had to deal with local opposition to its warehouse projects, and had to abandon plans for hubs in Montbert (near Nantes) and Fournès, though at the end of August 2021 the group inaugurated in Augny its largest site in France, extending over 185,000 m2.

(with reporting from AFP)

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